Police’s £40m axe: 100 frontline bobbies to go in next year - and that’s just the start

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UP to 100 frontline bobbies are set to be axed by South Yorkshire Police in the next year as the effect of budget cuts to save £15m begin to bite.

Another 289 civilian support staff from the force will also lose their jobs within the next 12 months.

By 2015 there will be 400 fewer police officers and 700 police staff jobs will be axed as the county’s police authority tries to save £40m by 2015.

The figures are even higher than union estimates, which initially suggested that around 900 jobs could be shed over the next four years.

The budget for 2011-12 has now been set at £256.95m.

The police authority, which oversees the force, said it had tried to create a “balanced budget” but it was “inevitable” services would be affected.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Med Hughes said: “We have set the best that we could perhaps hope for in the circumstances.

“I know it’s a worrying time for staff and the figures seem quite large, but the voluntary early severance scheme that the staff have signed up to means that we will deliver a balanced service, at least for the next year and probably the year after.

“There are risks that service options the public have come to rely on are cut out completely.”

He added that his “biggest fear” was losing support workers meaning frontline staff would have to complete routine administration duties.

Charles Perryman, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Authority, said: “We are in this position not of our own making and we have to address the situation that we find ourselves in.

“Nevertheless, I still expect that the force will improve its performance next year, that there will be a reduction in overall crime levels, and an increase in confidence in the police.”

More than 83 per cent of the authority’s budget goes on staff costs for its 5,600 police officers and support workers.

All staff have been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy.

Figures for February 1 showed that 273 such applications had been received.

Of these, 181 had been approved, nine were rejected, 50 have been deferred and 33 are still to be considered.

Rotherham’s Rawmarsh Labour councillor Shaun Wright, who sits on the police authority, said he was worried about the impact of the cuts on staff and the service they would be able to provide.

“It’s going to affect all our staff,” he said.

“We want the chief constable to retain a balanced force which provides the full range of policing services.

“There is an inevitability about it that the service will be somewhat reduced, it is an emergency service and so the public’s reliance on that service will be affected.”

As well as absorbing the cuts, the force will have to spend up to £2m policing the Liberal Democrat conference next month in Sheffield.

Mr Wright said it was “ironic” the force would have to pay for a service for the political party who had a hand in devising the cuts.

“It could cost up to £2m and that’s going to come out of South Yorkshire council tax and tax-payers’ money which means that we can’t spend that on policing,” he added.